Car Chip keeps you in the know about vehicle's life on road

WHAT'S HOT

What's Hot

December 25, 2003|By Kevin E. Washington

On more than a few occasions, my mother wondered what I was doing with her car when I was a teen-ager. I'll bet she would have liked to have had the DriveRight CarChip ($179 for 300 hours of recording ability; a basic model has 75-hour recording capability for $139). This is one of those technological wonders that provides all kind of information on what a car is doing.

The CarChip, from Davis Instruments, basically reads data from your car - everything from diagnostic trouble codes to driver performance - once plugged into your car's On-Board-Diagnostics (OBD) II connector, located within three feet of the driver's seat. If you don't know where your OBD port is, you need only go to a Web site (www.autocenter.weber. edu/OBD-CH/vehicleoems.asp) and enter your car's model and make to get a photo of its location.

If you have a teen driving your car and you suspect they're doing 90 mph to the grocery store, the CarChip will tell you what's really going on when the youngsters pull out of the driveway.

The CarChip E/X chip kit has the data logger, the chip itself, software, a download cable and AC adapter. Plug in the CarChip, then take your car on the road. When you get back, unplug the chip and connect to the AC adapter and download cable to your computer.

The software reads idle time, time and date for each trip as well as when the CarChip was connected or unplugged, acceleration, deceleration, speed, starts, stops, distance and other sensor readings from the car. You can choose several different engine parameters to be read every five to 60 seconds. Davis says the CarChip works in almost all 1996 and later foreign and domestic vehicles, although there is an exclusion list on the bottom of the kit package that will warn you that some 2003 model Fords, GMs, Saabs and Mazdas won't be able to use it.

I enjoyed seeing all of my performance data. Since I'm the only person who drives my car, this was a confirmation of my safe driving habits.

If you're a serious geek, you can then take the data and put it into a graph or spreadsheet for analysis.

To read the information gathered by the CarChip, you'll need to have Windows 95 or later with 5 megabytes of hard disk space and one free serial port.

Information: (800)-678-3669 or www.carchip.com.

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